photograph by Andrea Riondino via Unsplash
“No greater grief than to remember days of joy, when misery is at hand.”
photograph by Andrea Riondino via Unsplash
“No greater grief than to remember days of joy, when misery is at hand.”
unknown photographer, Workers of printing house having a pre-Christmas coffee (1959)
“O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!”
cf. photograph by Noah Buscher via Unsplash
Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou may’st shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.
— King Lear
photograph by Warren Wong via Unsplash
Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha. Nobody moved for a time. “We have lost the first of the ebb,” said the Director suddenly. I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.
— Conrad, Heart of Darkness
“So foul a sky clears not without a storm.”
— Shakespeare, King John
Whosoever unceasingly strives upward … him can we save.
photograph by gustavovillegas via Pixabay
Monday, 11 o’clock. Well, praised be God! here I am. Videlicet, Ruthin, sixteen miles from Wrexham. At Wrexham Church I glanced upon the face of a Miss E. Evans, a young lady with [whom] I had been in habits of fraternal correspondence. She turned excessively pale; she thought it my ghost, I suppose. I retreated with all possible speed to our inn. There, as I was standing at the window, passed by Eliza Evans, and with her to my utter surprise her sister, Mary Evans, quam efflictim et perdite amabam. I apprehend she is come from London on a visit to her grandmother, with whom Eliza lives. I turned sick, and all but fainted away! The two sisters, as H. informs me, passed by the window anxiously several times afterwards; but I had retired.
Vivit, sed mihi non vivit—nova forte marita,
Ah dolor! alterius carâ, a cervice pependit.
Vos, malefida valete accensæ insomnia mentis,
Littora amata valete! Vale, ah! formosa Maria!
My fortitude would not have supported me, had I recognized her—I mean appeared to do it! I neither ate nor slept yesterday. But love is a local anguish; I am sixteen miles distant, and am not half so miserable. I must endeavour to forget it amid the terrible graces of the wild wood scenery that surround me. I never durst even in a whisper avow my passion, though I knew she loved me. Where were my fortunes? and why should I make her miserable! Almighty God bless her! Her image is in the sanctuary of my heart, and never can it be torn away but with the strings that grapple it to life. Southey! there are few men of whose delicacy I think so highly as to have written all this. I am glad I have so deemed of you. We are soothed by communications.
— Letter from Coleridge to Robert Southey, Sunday, July 15, 1794
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)
“When I compare the aspect of the world to me now with what it was twelve months ago, I am far from desponding or complaining. I seem to have a motive and a rallying-word in the fight of life: …Alles für Ruhm und Ihr!”
— Letter from Thomas Carlyle to Jane Welsh
Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.
cf. Thomas J. O’Halloran, “Christmas Shoppers…” (detail) (1969) (Edited by me)
FALSTAFF [to Doll]:
Thou dost give me flattering busses.
By my troth, I kiss thee with a most constant heart.
I am old, I am old.
I love thee better than I love e’er a scurvy young
boy of them all.
— Henry IV, Part 2
LIFE Magazine, 1966
I would never see any thing but Pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and Happiness in your steps…
— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne, July, 1819
cf. Nation’s Business Magazine, 1969
Northeastern University, Course Catalog (1973-74)
Tired I feel now. Will I get up? O wait… She kissed me. Never again. My youth. Only once it comes. Or hers. Take the train there tomorrow. No. Returning not the same. Like kids your second visit to a house. The new I want. Nothing new under the sun. Care of P. O. Dolphin’s Barn. Are you not happy in your? Naughty darling. At Dolphin’s barn charades in Luke Doyle’s house. Mat Dillon and his bevy of daughters: Tiny, Atty, Floey, Maimy, Louy, Hetty. Molly too. Eightyseven that was. Year before we. And the old major, partial to his drop of spirits. Curious she an only child, I an only child. So it returns. Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. And just when he and she. Circus horse walking in a ring. Rip van Winkle we played. Rip: tear in Henny Doyle’s overcoat. Van: breadvan delivering. Winkle: cockles and periwinkles. Then I did Rip van Winkle coming back. She leaned on the sideboard watching. Moorish eyes. Twenty years asleep in Sleepy Hollow. All changed. Forgotten. The young are old…
— Joyce, Ulysses
Business Screen Magazine, 1973
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man…
Ernst Halberstadt, “Elevated Railroad Structure…” (1973)
A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression.
— Samuel Johnson, Prayers and Meditations
Miroslav Sido, “Mother”
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away…
That lingers in the garden there.
— Robert Louis Stevenson, “To Any Reader” (excerpt)
photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay
My tables—meet it is I set it down…
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
—T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Photograph by Bruce Mars via Pexels
Doth any here know me? This is not Lear.
Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, his discernings
Are lethargied—Ha! Waking? ’Tis not so.
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
cf. video by Ventus17 via Pixabay
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me!
You would play upon me;
You would seem to know my stops;
You would pluck out the heart of my mystery;
You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass;
and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ;
Yet cannot you make it speak…
Tom Hubbard, “…Troupes Dancing in the Square Are Joined by Young-In-Heart Spectator” (1973)
Thou shalt find
That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off forever…
William Strode, “Magazines And Newspapers Litter The Intersection Of Sixth & Broadway…” (1972)
You must tell me something that you are sure is true —
I don’t care much what it may be, I will take your word for it.
Things get into a muddle with me…
—Mary Temple, letter to John C. Gray
cf. video by MikesPhotos via Pixabay
The lamentable change is from the best…
—Shakespeare, King Lear
Esther Bubley, “Students at Woodrow Wilson High School” (1943)
…his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth — yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams. But — oh, Rosalind! Rosalind! . . .
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
photograph by Zachary Staines via Unsplash
“…He, and another neighbour of mine, one Mr. Samuel Johnson, set out this morning for London together. Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next week, and Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a tragedy, and to see to get himself employed in some translation, either from the Latin or the French…”
—Letter from G. Walmsley to The Reverend Mr. Colson, March 2, 1737, quoted in Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
cf. Charles O’Rear, “Passengers of the Southwest Limited strolling beside the Amtrak train…” (1974)
When now the boy, whose childish thoughts aspire
To loftier aims, and make him ramble high’r,
Grown wild, and wanton, more embolden’d flies
Far from his guide, and soars among the skies…
If I didn’t try, how would I know? how would I know?
cf. Erik Calonius, “…Subway Car” (1973)
The first time was twenty years ago, when I left Princeton in junior year with a complaint diagnosed as malaria. It transpired, through an X-ray taken a dozen years later, that it had been tuberculosis—a mild case, and after a few months of rest I went back to college… To me college would never be the same. There were to be no badges of pride, no medals, after all. It seemed on one March afternoon that I had lost every single thing I wanted… A man does not recover from such jolts—he becomes a different person, and, eventually, the new person finds new things to care about…
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Pasting It Together”
Cincinnati Magazine, 1971
The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
Burn’d on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar’d all description: she did lie
In her pavilion–cloth-of-gold of tissue–
O’er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour’d fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.
—Antony and Cleopatra
(Comes towards her and leans over the back of a chair.)
Are you fretting yourself, ma’am, about anything?
Don’t be. He was always like that, meandering off by himself somewhere. He is a curious bird, Master Richard, and always was. Sure there isn’t a turn in him I don’t know. Are you fretting now maybe because he does be in there (pointing to the study) half the night at his books? Leave him alone. He’ll come back to you again. Sure he thinks the sun shines out of your face, ma’am.
—James Joyce, Exiles
You got that radioaction
Brighter than a sunny day…
Photograph by mvp via Unsplash
…since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him; and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many persons coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, “Yes,” said Diogenes, “stand a little out of my sun.”
Lady Bracknell: A hand-bag?
—Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
cf. D.A. Sigerist, “Two men and a woman dancing three hand reel” (ca. 1905)
LAVINIA: Stop! I want you to explain the telegram.
JULIA: Explain the telegram? What do you think, Alex?
ALEX: No, Julia, we can’t explain the telegram.
LAVINIA: I am sure that you could explain the telegram.
I don’t know why. But it seems to me that yesterday
I started some machine, that goes on working,
And I cannot stop it; no, it’s not like a machine—
Or if it’s a machine, someone else is running it.
But who? Somebody is always interfering …
I don’t feel free … and yet I started it …
–T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
cf. Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Four Ladies Sitting around a Table…” (detail) (1758)
and Eugène Atget, “Bar de Cabaret” (ca. 1900)
cf. Henry Farrer, Winter Scene in Moonlight (1869) and video: “stock footage – STARS – Time Lapse – Night”
Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping place,
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.
The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what’s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.
–W.B. Yeats, Fallen Majesty
99, I’ve been waiting so long…
Now the long blade of the sun, lying
Level east to west, touches with glory
Thebes of the Seven Gates. Open, unlidded
Eye of golden day! O marching light…
—Sophocles, Antigone (Tr. by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald)
Traveling down the sandy track
Compass in hand, guitar on my back…
cf. photograph by Ben White (edit) via Unsplash
Terry Eiler, Walkers in Dust Storm (ca. 1972)
In my native country, in the bosom of my religion, family, and friends, I should have passed a calm and peaceful life in the uniformity of a pleasing occupation, and among connections dear to my heart…
Instead of this — what a picture am I about to draw! — Alas! why should I anticipate the miseries I have endured? The reader will have but too much of the melancholy subject.
—Rousseau, Confessions (Tr. by W. Conyngham Mallory)
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Cervantes—a patient gentleman who wrote a book—has been sitting in the Elysian fields for three centuries and gazing sadly around, awaiting the birth of a grandson capable of understanding him.
—José Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Quixote
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it’s just me…
Library and Information Services Metropolitan State University, Star Wars Party (2015)
Alan Fisher, Lou Ambers tips his hat as he accepts a sandwich from a hand reaching out of a doorway (1935)
Drop, drop—in our sleep, upon the heart
sorrow falls, memory’s pain,
and to us, though against our very will,
even in our own despite,
–Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Edith Hamilton, trans., “Three Greek Plays”)
Esther Bubley, A geometry teacher…using a model to explain a figure (1943)
…she at last blushed, adjusted her dress, got up, and, without saying a word, went and seated herself at the window. I went to sit by her side, but she moved, sat down on a couch, got up immediately afterwards, and fanning herself as she walked about the chamber, said to me in a cold and disdainful tone of voice, “Zanetto, lascia le donne, e studia la matematica.” (“Johnny, give up women and study mathematics.”)
cf. U.S. National Archives, Photograph of Guests at Refreshment Table… (detail) (1963)
Jack: You really love me, Gwendolen?
Jack: Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.
Gwendolen: My own Ernest!
Jack: But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest?
Gwendolen: But your name is Ernest.
Jack: Yes, I know it is. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then?
Gwendolen: [Glibly.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.
Jack: Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don’t much care about the name of Ernest… I don’t think the name suits me at all.
Gwendolen: It suits you perfectly. It is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibrations.
Jack: Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. I think Jack, for instance, a charming name.
Gwendolen: Jack?… No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations… I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.
Jack: Gwendolen, I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once. There is no time to be lost…
–Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Left: Solaris (1972)
Right: Bartolomeo Pinelli, Aeneas and the shade of Dido (detail)
“She probably sensed that I didn’t really love her. But now I do…”
With tears, and pray’rs, and late-repenting love…
–Virgil, The Sixth Book of the Aeneis
“Dr. Adams told me that Johnson, while he was at Pembroke College, ‘was caressed and loved by all about him, was a gay and frolicksome fellow, and passed there the happiest part of his life.’ But this is a striking proof of the fallacy of appearances, and how little any of us know of the real internal state even of those whom we see most frequently…”
—Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
T. M. Weaver, “Far From The Madding Crowd” (ca. 1911)
He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath:
“The horror! The horror!”
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
cf. Edvard Munch, The Scream (1893)
“Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—…”
cf. Photograph by Jamie MacPherson via Unsplash
self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)
—e.e.cummings, my sweet old etcetera (excerpt)
More and more I’m thinkin’ ’bout love…
“Sometimes, when I see the little red mail plane fly in from Acapulco at seven in the morning over the strange hills…I think that you will be on it, on that plane every morning as it goes by, and will have come to save me. Then the morning goes by and you have not come…Yvonne come back to me, hear me, it is a cry, come back to me, Yvonne, if only for a day…”
—Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano
Sometimes I pretend you’ll come back again
And you’ll console the heart you stole…
In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct…
— Dante Alighieri, Inferno
David Falconer, from the DOCUMERICA collection (1973)
cf. E. C. Thompson, Interior showing a dining table set with silver and crystal (ca. 1870)
and photograph by Kace Rodriguez (detail) via Unsplash
Emily: Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all. Everything. I can’t look at everything hard enough. Good morning, Mama…
—Thornton Wilder, Our Town
Joseph A. Horne, Children with radishes grown in the Fairlawn Avenue Victory gardens (1943)
ESTRAGON: Ah! (Pause. Despairing.) What’ll we do, what’ll we do!
VLADIMIR: There’s nothing we can do.
ESTRAGON: But I can’t go on like this!
VLADIMIR: Would you like a radish?
ESTRAGON: Is that all there is?
VLADIMIR: There are radishes and turnips.
ESTRAGON: Are there no carrots?
VLADIMIR: No. Anyway you overdo it with your carrots.
ESTRAGON: Then give me a radish.
—Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Francis William Edmonds, The City And Country Beaux (detail) (Oil on canvas) (ca. 1838)
Miss Shepherd being the one pervading theme and vision of my life, how do I ever come to break with her? I can’t conceive. And yet a coolness grows between Miss Shepherd and myself. Whispers reach me of Miss Shepherd having said she wished I wouldn’t stare so, and having avowed a preference for Master Jones—for Jones! a boy of no merit whatever!
–Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Marry him or marry me
I’m the one that loves you baby can’t you see?
I ain’t got no future or family tree
But I know what a prince and lover ought to be…
Imagine a young man, alone, without anyone.
The moment a few raindrops streaked his glass
he began to scribble.
He lived in a tenement with mice for company.
I loved his bravery.
Someone else a few doors down
played Segovia records all day.
He never left his room, and no one could blame him.
At night he could hear the other’s
typewriter going, and feel comforted.
Literature and music.
Everyone dreaming of Spanish horsemen
Processions. Ceremony, and
Days of rain and high water.
Leaves hammered into the ground finally.
In my heart, this plot of earth
that the storm lights.
–Raymond Carver, “Aspens” from All of Us: Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf)
Northeastern University Course Catalog (1982-83)
Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn’t this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy.
–A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind” (excerpt)
“…the point for me is that he understands.”
“Yes,” Fanny Assingham cooed, “understands—?”
“Well, what I want. I want a happiness without a hole in it big enough for you to poke in your finger.”
“A brilliant, perfect surface—to begin with at least. I see.”
“The golden bowl—as it WAS to have been.”
And Maggie dwelt musingly on this obscured figure.
“The bowl with all our happiness in it. The bowl without the crack.”
—Henry James, The Golden Bowl
Stop and take a big breath
Begin with something hollow…
Thomas Benjamin Kennington, Polishing the Brass (1912)
Tom Hubbard, Strolling Among Pigeons at Fountain Square (1973)
He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said that, gathering leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the pools where they abide.
“Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may…”
And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and, when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
“God,” said I, “be my help and stay secure;
I’ll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!”
—William Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence
Three days in the rain and I ain’t had no sleep
But I won’t break down now, I got a promise to keep
Showing my determination…
“Planning to pay him out she tiptoed very early the next morning into Lytton’s bedroom, taking a pair of scissors with which she intended to snip away his beard while he slept. It was to be one of those devastating practical jokes of which she was so fond – a perfect revenge for his audacity. But the plan misfired. As she leant over him, Lytton opened his eyes and looked at her. It was a moment of curious intimacy, and she, who hypnotized so many others, was suddenly hypnotized herself.”
—Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey: The New Biography
She’s a wizard with her sheers
She’s been turning heads for years…
From “American Cookery” (1914)
Scene: Morning-room at the Manor House.
[Gwendolen and Cecily are at the window, looking out into the garden.]
Gwendolen: The fact that they did not follow us at once into the house, as any one else would have done, seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left.
Cecily: They have been eating muffins. That looks like repentance.
—Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
Edwin Austin Abbey, Valentine rescues Sylvia – Act V, Scene IV, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Pen and ink) (1892)
cf. National Photo Company Collection, Man and woman in automobile (ca. 1920) and photograph by Wil Stewart via Unsplash
“Once in the middle twenties I was driving along the High Corniche Road through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling on the sea below. As far ahead as I could see was Monte Carlo…It was not Monte Carlo I was looking at. It was back into the mind of the young man with cardboard soles who had walked the streets of New York. I was him again—for an instant I had the good fortune to share his dreams, I who had no more dreams of my own. And there are still times when I creep up on him, surprise him on an autumn morning in New York or a spring night in Carolina when it is so quiet that you can hear a dog barking in the next county. But never again as during that all too short period when he and I were one person, when the fulfilled future and the wistful past were mingled in a single gorgeous moment—when life was literally a dream.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Early Success”
Standing on top of the world for a little while…
F. Holland Day, Peggy Lee Writing (1898)
“My life consists, and has essentially always consisted, of attempts at writing, largely unsuccessful. But when I don’t write, I wind up on the floor at once, fit for the dustbin…it soon became evident that I had to spare myself on all sides, relinquish a little everywhere to retain just enough strength for what seemed to me my main purpose…I once made a detailed list of the things I have sacrificed to writing and the things that were taken from me for the sake of writing or rather whose loss could be endured only with this explanation…So If there is a higher power that wishes to use me, or does use me, I am at its mercy, at least as a well-crafted instrument; if not, I am nothing at all and will find myself in a frightful void.”
—Letter from Franz Kafka to Felice Bauer, November 1, 1912
I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will,
O despairer, here is my neck,
By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.
—Walt Whitman, Song Of Myself
William MacGregor Paxton, The Breakfast (1911)
MANDERS: It almost makes me dizzy. Your whole married life, the seeming union of all these years, was nothing more than a hidden abyss!…
MRS. ALVING: I had gone on bearing with him, although I knew very well the secrets of his life out of doors. But when he brought the scandal within our own walls—
MANDERS: Impossible! Here!
MRS. ALVING: Yes; here in our own home…
MANDERS: [Moved.] And you were able to bear all this!
MRS. ALVING: I had to bear it for my little boy’s sake. But when the last insult was added; when my own servant-maid—…
–Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., “…Men’s clothing II” (1953)
“As his eyes passed from one to another, the determination to possess objects that even surpassed these tormented the young man. He devoted himself more and more resolutely to the search…”
—Virginia Woolf, Solid Objects
The persuasion that I shall see her no more will kill me. My dear Brown, I should have had her when I was in health, and I should have remained well. I can bear to die — I cannot bear to leave her. Oh, God! God! God! Every thing I have in my trunks that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear. The silk lining she put in my travelling cap scalds my head. My imagination is horribly vivid about her — I see her — I hear her. There is nothing in the world of sufficient interest to divert me from her a moment. This was the case when I was in England; I cannot recollect, without shuddering, the time that I was a prisoner at Hunt’s, and used to keep my eyes fixed on Hampstead all day. Then there was a good hope of seeing her again — Now! — O that I could be buried near where she lives! I am afraid to write to her — to receive a letter from her — to see her handwriting would break my heart — even to hear of her anyhow, to see her name written, would be more than I can bear. My dear Brown, what am I to do? Where can I look for consolation or ease? If I had any chance of recovery, this passion would kill me. Indeed, through the whole of my illness, both at your house and at Kentish Town, this fever has never ceased wearing me out. When you write to me, which you will do immediately, write to Rome (poste restante)— if she is well and happy, put a mark thus +; if ——…
—Letter from John Keats to Charles Brown (November 1, 1820)
“For auld lang syne.” The weary throat gave out,The last word wavered; and the song being done,He raised again the jug regretfullyAnd shook his head, and was again alone.There was not much that was ahead of him,And there was nothing in the town below—Where strangers would have shut the many doorsThat many friends had opened long ago.
—Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Mr. Flood’s Party”
The place was dark. Was it so late that they had all gone to bed? Had Lucinda stayed at the Westerhazys’ for supper? Had the girls joined her there or gone someplace else? Hadn’t they agreed, as they usually did on Sunday, to regret all their invitations and stay at home? He tried the garage doors to see what cars were in but the doors were locked and rust came off the handles onto his hands. Going toward the house, he saw that the force of the thunderstorm had knocked one of the rain gutters loose. It hung down over the front door like an umbrella rib, but it could be ﬁxed in the morning. The house was locked, and he thought that the stupid cook or the stupid maid must have locked the place up until he remembered that it had been some time since they had employed a maid or a cook. He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in at the windows, saw that the place was empty.
—John Cheever, “The Swimmer”
I don’t know you anymore
Name and face have been obscured
Change them if you want but
I don’t know you anymore…